The tragedy of Calvary: or the minute details of Christ's life from Palm Sunday morning till the resurrection and ascension taken prophecy, history, revelations and ancient writings by Meagher, Jas. L. (James Luke), 1848-1920
Now Annas calls for writing materials, and they bring him a sheet of parchment thirty-six inches long and six inches wide, and with a reed pen he writes all the different charges brought against Jesus. Rolling it up he places it in a hollow reed, a kind of bamboo which grows on the banks of the Jordan, and placing it in the hands of Jesus, as a scepter of his royalty, he says:
"Behold the scepter of thy kingdom. It contains thy titles, also the account of the honors to which thou art entitled, and of thy right to the throne. Take them to the high priest, in order that he may acknowledge thy royal dignity, and treat thee as thou deserve. Tie the hands of this king, and take him before the high priest."
When Christ was brought into Annas' house his hands were unbound, and now the guards tie his hands and arms again, so they will hold the reed with the parchment in its top, and thus he goes out as a king holding his scepter. When they went out into the night, the streets were filled with a noisy crowd. And when they saw him the mob shouted, jeered at him, arid heaped insults on him. As he passed outside the door, they struck him, kicked him, and showered blows on him.
The procession took up its march when the guards had relighted the torches, and they went along, the guards pushing back the excited crowd, who pressed in on him to insult and abuse him. From the high walls and flat roofs of the houses on each side of the street, they threw down stones, and shouted the vilest language. It was about four hundred feet north of Annas' house to the residence of Caiphas, and as they went along, the priests and Pharisees gave money to those who heaped the vilest insults on Jesus, and all who looked with compassion on him were pushed out of the way.
It was but a few hundred feet north of the Cenacle, where that night he had changed the Passover Service into the Mass. To the northeast, across the Tyropoeon valley, rose the great Temple. The richest Jews lived on Sion, the chief priest and wealthy Pharisees had their residences there, and they all surrounded the noisy band dragging Christ to the high priest's house.
Thus Christ passed along that night between the vast crowds lining the streets while they howled at him, mocking and striking him as he went by, bearing the reed in his bound hands like the scepter of a king. " Son of man, prophesy and say : Thus saith the Lord God, the sword is sharpened and furbished. It is sharpened to kill victims, it is furbished that it may glitter; thou removest the scepter of my Son." (Ezech. xxi. 9-10) And the prophet describes the destruction of Jerusalem and of the people who rose as one man against him that night: " The sons of my mother have fought against me." (Solomon's Cant, of Cant. i. 5) " For strangers have risen up against me, and the mighty have sought after my soul. (Psalm liii. 3.) " For they have cast iniquities upon me, and in wrath they were troublesome to me." (Psalm liv. 4.)
At the present time a little chapel, twenty-one by twenty-seven feet, occupies the site of Caiphas' house, the spot where Jesus Christ was condemned to death. Six square stone pillars, three on each side, support the roof, and inscriptions tell you that five bishops were buried within its foundations.
The altar stands in the eastern end, according to the customs of the early Church. The round flat stone, like a great millstone, which closed the door of the tomb of the dead Christ, now forms the table of the altar. At the south of the altar within the sanctuary is a little square stone room, just large enough to stand in, built over the prison in the basement where they imprisoned our Lord that night.
The little church covers only a small part of the site of the high priest's house, occupying the spot where the Lord was tried. In the yard behind the church, you can see where they had been excavating, and had uncovered an extensive and beautiful mosaic of white and colored marbles, which looked as though they had formed a part of the floor over which Christ walked that night. The figured work had been covered up for centuries with debris and was well preserved. All the floor had not been uncovered, because the Turks had forbidden further investigations. They are afraid the vast treasures David hid in his tomb under the Cenacle close by, mentioned by Josephus, might be found. 1
Caiphas' house, of whitish yellow stone, was a very extensive building, situated on the very top of Sion, and commanded an extensive view on all sides. In front, facing the street to the west, was an open court surrounded on three sides with rows of pillars forming three arcades. The eastern arcade inclosed a deeper semicircular enclosure, in which was a large divan, a custom still common in oriental countries. On this half circular seat sat the members of the Sanhedrin when Christ was brought before them, their feet curled up under them. In the ancient palace of the Turkish Sultan, on the Seraglio Point at Constantinople, where Constantine built his palace, you will find a ten by twelve feet divan somewhat like this one. There the Sultans sat when they received the foreign ambassadors. Along the wall of the Temple area in Jerusalem, just to the north of the Golden Gate, they show you the seat where Solomon sat, when he dispensed justice, sitting thus in oriental style.
In the center of this long seat, a little elevated above the others, was the seat of Caiphas, president of the court. The seats of the two scribes, one to take down the testimony for, and the other against the prisoner, were at either end of the half circle. The accused stood in the middle before the high priest's seat, with the witnesses at each side or behind him, where they gave their testimony.
They could acquit the same day, but they must not condemn to death till the next. The court must not sit on the eve of the Sabbath or the eve of a great feast, and that was the reason the trial of Christ took place at night; for the next day, Friday, was the eve of the great feast of the Passover Nisan, which would last a whole week till the twenty-first of the month of Nisan. The morning meeting was to confirm the night meeting, and was held by them to be a continuation of the night trial.
Only priests, Levites and Israelites, who could marry into priests' families, could sit as members of the court, for these only could sacrifice in the Temple, and these put to death the real Victim of man's sin, typified by all these Temple sacrifices. At their ordination to this office, it was said to them : " Justice, only justice shalt thou pursue." But there was no justice now, for they were filled with anger and burned with hate against him they thought the great seducer of their nation.
1 Josephus, Antiq., B. xiii., C. viii., 4; B. xvi., C. vii., 1 ; Wars, 1., ii,, 15.